LONDON: Jesse Lingard was in trouble with Louis Van Gaal before Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea for telling the media that their manager had loosened the defensive shackles and started encouraging his team with more attacking verve.
Not true, said Van Gaal, and the first half at Stamford Bridge seemed to bear out his version with two teams apparently more afraid of losing than of trying to win. Then, however, Lingard’s attacking instincts very nearly brought victory, denied only by a Diego Costa strike in stoppage time.
The shadow of Jose Mourinho loomed large over the match at Stamford Bridge with the sacked Chelsea boss having been linked directly with United in a BBC report which suggested his agent, Jorge Mendes, had already been discussing a summer switch to Old Trafford.
United always looked the more impressive of the two teams and deserved to go ahead when young defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson crossed, Wayne Rooney turned the ball back and Lingard shot home from 12m.
David De Gea made fine saves to defy Chelsea’s best effort, from Brane Ivanovic and Cesc Fabregas, before Blues’ boss Guus Hiddink brought on Pedro in an attempt to rescue at least a point.
The attacking gamble was rewarded when Costa equalised in the first of the seven minutes of stoppage time to preserve Hiddik’s unbeaten record since his arrival as caretaker.
Van Gaal admitted to “deep frustration because we were the better team. Again – and we didn’t win.
“We played a superb game until the last quarter. Then, we were unlucky and we get a goal against us. It is unbelievable. We don’t reward ourselves.”
Lingard summed up United’s feelings by adding: “To concede late on, it is like a defeat.”but we hve to move on to the next game. We are playing a lot better now. As a collective group we are doing well.”